Automation and Integration with Xero
One of the first pieces of software BSimple integrated with was Xero! In fact, when the founders of BSimple first started using Xero heavily, it was decided pretty quickly that it was no good as a platform to manage customer orders and inventory. This drove us to unpack the Xero API and integrate with it. This allowed BSimple to focus on the things that really do benefit from automation such as order collection, data entry, inventory management and purchasing. These jobs are simply better when Xero and BSimple are talking to each other!
Why do we integrate
BSimple focuses on building business processes into software.
Xero focuses on compliance and accounting integrity. Both pieces of software solve a very different problem. That is the core reason why we integrate. BSimple has no intention of being an accounting platform and offering compliance. By all means it could easily be extended to offer a basic level of functionality for this, in the same way that you can use Xero to manage your inventory and generate customer invoices. Neither pieces of software do the others job very well.
Why building something when you can just collaborate? Well, sometimes there is a need when the pricing of products scale out. In fact, it is in the roadmap to have some basic level of functionality available to BSimple customers so they can use the software without integrating with Xero.
What have we automated
There are actually lots of things that have been automated by BSimple, however we specifically discussing the Xero integration we have stuck to these core bits of the business process and data sharing.
1. Contacts <-> Customers/Suppliers.
Using the API we can easily import all your existing contacts into BSimple. Having said that, Xero makes it extremely easy for you to create contacts so if you have been operating it for a while, its very likely you have 10x the contacts than what you need. Using the BSimple contact importer will allow you to be selective with the contacts that you import to keep your main business customers and supplier lists in BSimple as clean and neat as possible.
BSimple creates invoices and utilises the API to push invoices generated in BSimple through to Xero. The same applies for older invoices, BSimple can retrieve these from Xero and populate them inside BSimple. The system regularly checks the status of invoices in Xero and updates accordingly; specifically if payment is made, or an invoice is voided this is mirrored in BSimple.
This was the first problem that BSimple solved, making it easy to create sleeves from a box, and allowing the administrator to generate and approve invoices without having processed the bill. (In Xero, you need to approve a Bill before the inventory is populated, and it doesn’t allow you to sell an item with sufficient quantity). Obviously, this is by design as Xero runs a strict inventory management process, however we found this incompatible with how business actually operates.
4. Purchase Orders.
“You make your money when you buy” – this is what a business mentor once told me. BSimple has been structured to help you keep your suppliers honest. It will flag any price variances and force you to adjust them. It will flexibly allow you to split up invoices, remove items if they are unavailable and keep track of all the detail for you – especially if you have trouble reconciling the invoices you receive. Once supplier gives you invoices that show line items INC gst? No problem, we actually have special reconciliation pages that allow you to automatically figure out the correct ex gst figures in real time to find and fix any discrepancies on the go.
The Xero Integrations that BSimple has focused on have been deliberately built and tested rigorously to optimize the administration time spent in the system. There are a lot of tasks that are easily repeatable, but there are also tasks that are critical and require constant human review.
Humans have a tendency to become complacent overtime when doing repeatable tasks. BSimple exploits this by making the repeatable task simple and flagging mistakes as they present. This saves you time as the system learns and allows mistakes to be captured and fixed on the fly.
BSimple is always open to new ideas, so if you think you have a suggestion which could save time and money we would love to hear it. We regularly work with our customers, collect ideas from watching them use the software as well as providing instruction on potential alternative ways of doing a task.
To use the Xero API, you will need to have a Xero Subscription that is at a minimum on the Standard level access. The smaller subscription levels have been tested and confirmed to not work (unfortunately, they used to pre OAuth2 API saving you $40/month).